President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured the public that there is no invasion happening in Sandy Cay near Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea, after Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio told the government to vigorously protest and send navy ships in the parts of the island where the presence of Chinese vessels were seen over 2.5 nautical miles west of Pag-asa.
Duterte said the appearance of the ships in Sandy Cay only shows that they have good ties with China, “Nagpa-patrol kasi magkaibigan man kami [They are patrolling because we are friends].”
He said Ambassador Zhao Jianhua guaranteed that they have no plans to build anything in the said island.
“China assured me that they will not build anything there. They called me up, the ambassador; we will assure you that we are not building anywhere there.” Duterte said.
The dredging of China in the sandbar caused the island to be at high tide and is now constantly visible.
Carpio earlier affirmed that the sandbar is now a potential territory, “capable of sovereign ownership with its own territorial sea and territorial airspace.”
The existence of two frigates, a Chinese coast guard vessel and two military fishing boats in the sand bar are not signs of territorial invasion, according to Duterte.
“They (China) are not invading it. What Carpio said was not true. They are just there but they are not claiming anything,” he said, adding that there’s no need to file a diplomatic protest.
The President reassured the public that he will not give the territory to China, “I will never do it. And if I have to, I will go to a quarrel and maybe war… We will not win. And if we have trouble there and it erupts into violence, it would be a great sacrifice. And I’m sure we cannot afford it. I am a realist,” he said. “Why should I defend a sandbar and kill the Filipinos because of a sandbar?”
He added, “Do not push me into the realm of impossibility because if you provoke me and conflict erupts, you will be safe in your office but the nearest missile of China can hit the City of Manila in seven minutes.”
Duterte also disproved the allegation that Chinese ships were blocking Filipino fishermen from accessing the fishing areas of West Philippine Sea.
“It’s free for all. It’s claimed by them, it is claimed by us. At least we are not giving that out. Before, we can’t enter. But because of modus vivendi, anyone who wishes to enter can enter. When you fish, you look for rich fishing ground,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said that the Philippine government is still consistently diligent on its stand about the disputed island.
“Let me assure you that despite the lack of details that we give you, we will tell you if there is an alarming station or if the public is in danger,” Cayetano said.
China said on Tuesday that it is working into a peaceful negotiation with the Philippines. |
In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying criticized “some individuals in the Philippines” who condemned China.
“The attempt of some individuals in the Philippines who made irresponsible condemnation against China is nothing but stirring up disputes between China and the Philippines,” he said at a press briefing in Beijing Tuesday.
Hua added, “China stands ready to work with the ASEAN countries, including the Philippines to implement the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea in a comprehensive and effective manner, deepen maritime pragmatic cooperation, actively advance the consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, jointly uphold the hard-won sound situation in the South China Sea and move forward the positive development of the China-Philippine relations.”